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BLOG: Intelligence has landed: the data centre of the future is here

Mike Jansma | April 11, 2013
A new breed of intelligent power distribution units has entered the market which will help data centre managers get to grips with the bigger issues of energy costs and downtime.

How do you picture the data centre of the future? Fully automated, perfectly regulated, with robots ensuring 100 percent uptime? Are humans engineered out of the equation completely? This image is not a million miles from reality. The future is already here and intelligence has landed in the data centre.

Scepticism is natural, but the key lies in the most unexpected place: the PDU (power distribution unit). The PDU is the lifeblood of a data centre, transferring energy that drives the infrastructure. It sits within the rack, providing straightforward power connectivity and routing for all the IT components. However, a new breed of intelligent PDU has entered the market which will help data centre managers (DCMs) get to grips with the bigger issues of energy costs and downtime, providing the data required to meet the demands of stakeholders from IT, finance and facilities.

Imagine the intelligent PDU as a brain within the server rack actively monitoring the environment, looking for threats from electrical circuit overloads or any physical and environmental conditions. Believe it or not, it has the ability to save the data centre from meltdown. 

As the pressure for service reliability and security increases, many data centres are diverting as much as 90 percent of their electricity to keep idle servers available. This wastage stems from the fear of 'not being able to turn it on again if we turn it off'. This fear is so great the preference is to bear the significant cost of waste in exchange for business continuity.

Some intelligent PDUs offer the option of switching outlets on or off in response to real time needs, eliminating permanently switched-on stand-by and creating a cost-effective alternative to a data centre refit. With the most effective market products ensuring 100 percent business continuity and leaving computing application processes undisturbed, the benefits to all stakeholders are clear.


With energy costs rising, financial officers cannot afford to overlook the cost savings that the new generation of intelligent PDUs can deliver. Now they can regain control of energy metering to within a one percent billing grade accuracy, perfect for co-location providers looking to maximise profit and providing tenants with peace of mind.

Raise the temperature

Recent ASHRAE[1] findings have suggested that DCMs should raise the recommended temperature ranges for IT equipment to reduce wasted energy from over-cooling. The ability to raise the temperature of the data centre, by as little as one degree, can help create huge savings in energy costs without putting operations at risk. Much time has been spent by server and network equipment OEMs to ensure reliable operation at higher operating temperatures.

However, all have ignored the impact of these higher temperatures on the power infrastructure; particularly the rack PDUs which are located in the hottest exhaust temperature zone within the data centre. Most PDUs are safety rated to 40-45 degrees Celsius; far below the new ASHRAE guidelines for hot aisle temperature. Many DCMs currently increasing operating temperatures in the data centre risk not only the reliability of the power delivery system; but also a violation of equipment safety standards. 


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